Councils out of funds for troubling bridge
WHILE LISMORE and Richmond Valley councils admit they don’t have the funds to replace an unsafe bridge at Bentley, they say there is a plan in the works.
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin recently backed “severely” affected farming families in the push to replace the disputed Plains Bridge on Bungabee Road at Bentley.
The bridge straddles the border of both Lismore City and Richmond Valley local government areas, providing access to six properties on the Lismore City Council side.
Richmond Valley General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said two properties are located on the Richmond Valley Council side, however, primary access to these lots is not dependent on the bridge.
He said, following concerns raised by residents relating to the safety risk of the bridge, the councils jointly engaged a consultant to undertake a detailed bridge inspection. The report recommended a two-tonne load limit for light vehicles only, with a speed reduction to 20km/h.
“The bridge report noted significant work would be required to increase load carrying capacity. A simple repair would not result in increasing this capacity,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Neither Lismore or Richmond Valley Councils have the required budget to replace the bridge at this point in time.”
He said both councils had been adversely affected by drought, bushfire and flooding within the past year, which has resulted in unexpected capital expenditure.
“We are committed to working together to secure grant funding to enable replacement of the structure as quickly as possible, with work beginning on applications to the Australian Government’s Bridge Renewal Program and Heavy Vehicle Safety & Productivity Program.
“It is likely these funding sources will be available quicker than any other options,” he said.
“Both councils will also investigate the Fixing Country Bridges Program, which will be implemented by Transport for NSW,” he said.
“To better understand the scope of the impact, council officers are contacting property owners to gain a full understanding of their heavy vehicle needs.”
A Lismore City Council spokesman confirmed the stated plan of action was in the works.
Federal Member for Page, Kevin Hogan said he had liaised with residents affected and the council about this bridge.
“I am working with council now on this one.”
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he was aware of the matter.
”I am more than happy to support any funding application put forward by the respective councils under the NSW Government’s Fixing Country Bridges program,” he said.